Al Jolson


Actor, Singer
Al Jolson

About

Also Known As
Asa Yoelson
Birth Place
Lithuania
Born
May 26, 1886
Died
October 23, 1950
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

Celebrated song-and-dance man who was a major Broadway attraction before gaining worldwide fame as the star of the so-called "first" talking picture, "The Jazz Singer" (1927). Known as both "The World's Greatest Entertainer" and the biggest egomaniac in show business, Jolson got his start as a blackface singer in vaudeville around 1906. By the 1910s, he was starring in both book and vari...

Photos & Videos

The Jazz Singer - Behind-the-Scenes photos
The Jazz Singer - Movie Poster
The Jazz Singer - Scene Stills

Family & Companions

Henrietta Keller
Wife
Divorced in July 1919.
Alma Osborn
Wife
Actor. Married on August 18, 1922; divorced.
Ruby Keeler
Wife
Actor, dancer. Third wife; married on September 21, 1928; divorced on December 28, 1940; co-starred together in the feature film, "Go Into Your Dance" (1935).

Biography

Celebrated song-and-dance man who was a major Broadway attraction before gaining worldwide fame as the star of the so-called "first" talking picture, "The Jazz Singer" (1927). Known as both "The World's Greatest Entertainer" and the biggest egomaniac in show business, Jolson got his start as a blackface singer in vaudeville around 1906. By the 1910s, he was starring in both book and variety shows on Broadway, including "The Honeymoon Express" (1913), "Robinson Crusoe Jr." (1916), "Sinbad" (1918) and "Bombo" (1921). His hammy, exuberant singing style and his obvious love of entertaining made him a huge star of both stage and recordings.

Jolson made his first films in the mid-20s, a series of early talking shorts. But his immortality came with "The Jazz Singer," the first commercially viable, part-talking feature. Signed with Warner Bros., Jolson made a series of popular, sentimental musicals, including "The Singing Fool" (1928), "Sonny Boy" (1929), "Mammy" and "Big Boy" (both 1930) before his vogue began passing. He left for United Artists in 1933 for the bizarre (and commercially disastrous) Rodgers and Hart film "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" before returning to Warners. There, he made a series of innocuous musicals, the best of which was the first, "Wonder Bar" (1934).

Jolson's fame declined through "Go Into Your Dance" (1935, co-starring Ruby Keeler, his wife from 1928-39), "Rose of Washington Square" (1939) and "Rhapsody in Blue" (1944). He entertained the troops in both WWII and Korea, and had a resurgence of popularity when he provided Larry Parks' voice in "The Jolson Story" (1946) and "Jolson Sings Again" (1949). He had achieved the status of revered veteran when he died in 1950.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

American Lifestyles (1987)
Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
Himself
Swanee River (1940)
E. P. Christy
Hollywood Cavalcade (1939)
Himself
Rose of Washington Square (1939)
Ted Cotter
The Singing Kid (1936)
Al Jackson
Go into Your Dance (1935)
Al Howard
Wonder Bar (1934)
Al Wonder
Hallelujah I'm a Bum (1933)
Bumper
Big Boy (1930)
Gus
Mammy (1930)
Al Fuller
Say It with Songs (1929)
Joe Lane
The Singing Fool (1928)
Al Stone
The Jazz Singer (1927)
Jakie Rabinowitz [also known as Jack Robin]

Music (Feature Film)

Fort McCoy (2014)
Song
The Rite (2011)
Song
Marmaduke (2010)
Song
Leatherheads (2008)
Song Performer
The White Countess (2005)
Song
The Aviator (2004)
Composer
The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
Song
A Guy Thing (2003)
Song
When Brendan Met Trudy (2000)
Song
Heart (1999)
Song
Payback (1999)
Song
The Last September (1999)
Song Performer ("You Made Me Love You")
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Song
The Long Day Closes (1992)
Music Composer
Roger & Me (1989)
Song
The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
Song Performer
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Song
Phar Lap (1983)
Songs ("California Here I Come" "There'S A Rainbow Round My Shoulders")
You Are What You Eat (1968)
Composer
Star! (1968)
Composer
The Helen Morgan Story (1957)
Composer
The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956)
Composer
Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (1952)
Composer
Dreamboat (1952)
Composer
Jolson Sings Again (1950)
Composer
The Great Gatsby (1949)
Composer
Feudin' Rhythm (1949)
Composer
Feudin', Fussin and A-Fightin' (1948)
Composer
The Jolson Story (1947)
Composer
Stars on Parade (1944)
Composer
Silver Spurs (1943)
Composer
Casablanca (1942)
Composer
Cairo (1942)
Composer
Hold That Ghost (1941)
Composer
Hollywood Hotel (1938)
Composer
Music Is Magic (1935)
Composer
Lucky Boy (1929)
Composer
Say It with Songs (1929)
Composer
New York Nights (1929)
Composer
The Singing Fool (1928)
Composer
The Jazz Singer (1927)
Composer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Jolson Story (1947)
Voice double for Larry Parks

Music (Special)

Harry Connick, Jr. & His Orchestra: Swinging Out With Harry (1990)
Song

Cast (Short)

Hollywood Handicap (1938)
Himself
A Day at Santa Anita (1937)
Himself
A Plantation Act (1926)

Misc. Crew (Short)

The Naughty Twenties (1951)
Archival Footage
Let's Go to the Movies (1949)
Archival Footage
The Voice That Thrilled the World (1943)
Archival Footage

Life Events

1894

Immigrated to USA; settled in Washington, DC

1906

Made stage debut

1911

New York stage debut, "La Belle Paree"

1925

Film debut, a talking short for Warner Bros.

1927

Made feature debut, "The Jazz Singer"

1933

Left Warner Bros. for United Artists, made "Hallelujah I'm a Bum"

1934

Re-signed with Warner Bros.

1949

Made last film, playing himself in "Jolson Sings Again"

Photo Collections

The Jazz Singer - Behind-the-Scenes photos
Here are a few photos of Al Jolson taken behind-the-scenes during production of The Jazz Singer (1927), Warner Bros' ground-breaking talking picture.
The Jazz Singer - Movie Poster
Here is the original release American One-Sheet poster for The Jazz Singer (1927), Warner Bros' ground-breaking talking picture. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Jazz Singer - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from The Jazz Singer (1927), Warner Bros' ground-breaking "Talkie" starring Al Jolson.
Wonder Bar - Scenes Stills
Here are a few scene stills from Wonder Bar (1934), starring Al Jolson and Kay Francis.

Videos

Movie Clip

Time Bandits (1981) - Me And My Shadow The time-traveling dwarves (David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis et al) and Kevin (Craig Warnock) have tumbled to Castiglione, Lombardy, 1796, which nutty Napoleon (Ian Holm) has just conquered, aiming to ingratiate themselves with the Al Jolson tune, in director Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, 1981.
Rhapsody In Blue (1945) - Send That Song Over To Me! Agent Max Dreyfus (Charles Coburn) is so impressed with new client George Gershwin (Robert Alda) that he introduces him to Al Jolson (as himself, in dreaded black-face) over the phone in Rhapsody In Blue, 1945.
Hallelujah I'm A Bum (1933) - I'm A Bum Again More Rodgers and Hart song as Bumper (Al Jolson) is relieved he's no longer rich, not realizing he's about to meet disconsolate June (Madge Evans), in Lewis Milestone's Hallelujah I'm A Bum, 1933.
Hallelujah I'm A Bum (1933) - Drop That Goose! Youthful John Carradine in this opening scene from the Al Jolson vehicle Hallelujah I'm A Bum, 1933, in which Al (as "Bumper") and pal Sunday (Chester Conklin) meet the mayor (Frank Morgan), wintering in Florida.
Hallelujah I'm A Bum (1933) - Hoover's Cossacks! Songs and musical dialogue by Rodgers and Hart as Bumper (Al Jolson) and Egghead (Harry Langdon) perform a highly political discourse in director Lewis Milestone's Hallelujah I'm A Bum, 1933.
Jazz Singer, The (1927) - Open, New York Ghetto Opening title sequence doesn't mention producer Darryl Zanuck or sound recordist George Groves, from Warner Brothers' landmark first talking feature The Jazz Singer, 1927, starring Al Jolson.
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' - Me And My Shadow Salesman Wilbur (Donald O'Connor) has contrived to get himself locked in a barn with a firm tap floor where he performs the Al Jolson number "Me and My Shadow," in Feudin, Fussin' and A-Fightin', 1948.

Trailer

Companions

Henrietta Keller
Wife
Divorced in July 1919.
Alma Osborn
Wife
Actor. Married on August 18, 1922; divorced.
Ruby Keeler
Wife
Actor, dancer. Third wife; married on September 21, 1928; divorced on December 28, 1940; co-starred together in the feature film, "Go Into Your Dance" (1935).

Bibliography